State-wide farm listening tour stops at Empire Farm Days, looks to educate new farmers

The idea to start a program to help new farmers begin and grow their businesses came from some challenges state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball faced earlier in his life.

On Wednesday, Ball told the small crowd gathered at Empire Farm Days for the first leg of the Beginning Farm program listening tour about how he dreamed of owning his grandparents' dairy farm when he was a kid. However, they sold the farm when Ball was 10 years old.

After high school, he began working on other people's farms, became a farm manager and then eventually went on to start his own farm, which he still owns 25 years later.

"This is kind of a personal thing with me because before I was a farm owner, I was a beginner farmer and before I was a beginner farmer, I was a beginner farm worker," Ball said of the program.

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